Monday, July 27, 2009
Today is my father's birthday. If he were still with us he would be 86. My dad was sort of a renaissance man, or a rebel, a free thinker or maybe just plain stubborn but whatever adjective you use to describe him, boring would not be one of them.
My dad was born in San Antonio in 1923 but lived in several different parts of Texas during his life. He lived in Austin, Corpus Christi, Quemada, the hill country but his heart was always in San Antonio.
He started working at a very young age as a radio actor. At sixteen he decided to pursue a career in radio which he did until Uncle Sam decided differently. He served with the US Army Communication Corp in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Upon his return stateside he was fascinated by television and got into that as quickly as he could. He was an announcer, a weatherman, an anchorman, an artist. He built sets for such programs as "Shock" and "Captain Gus". He had the privilege of interviewing many celebrities such as Raymond Burr and John Glenn.
Being the creative sort, he was drawn to movies and took a stab at making a few himself. One of his movies has been released after many years on DVD and one stands as a tribute in the garden of Frank Thompson. Realizing that San Antonio was not the "new" Hollywood, Daddy returned to television only to leave again a few years later to enter the comic book world which was an enduring career that lasted until his death.
He was all these things, actor, movie maker, tv personality, politician, and artist but to me he was just "daddy". We were too much alike to always get along but I knew, and appreciated, that my homelife was a bit unusual. I grew up with my dad on tv or my dad splicing movies in the back room or, instead of reading me a story, we talked Egyptology. I wouldn't have had it any other way although I didn't realize that until much later in my life.
To my kids he started out as "Pop Pop" but quickly turned into "Banker" and not for the obviously assumed reason. He used to play superhero with my son -- my son being Aquaman and he would slosh into the "bank" and my father was "the Banker", hence the name Banker or Bank. Nope, no Grandpa, PaPa or PopPop for him -- Banker fit him to a tee. He nicknamed my daughter "Breezy Wheezy Motor Mouth" which stuck with her much longer than I am sure she cared for it to. He absolutely adored my kids and was always there with a typewriter to take apart or to help build a Micky Mouse replica for school. My kids were blessed in having an unconventional grandfather with a brilliant, artistic mind.
I choose to believe that he knows how great the kids grew up to be, how fantastic and wonderful Nathan and Kathryn are and how I am growing to resemble him more every day. And I choose to believe that he knows that we wish him a very happy birthday!